Alberta Wheat Commission Takes Part in Wheat Genomics Research


The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), and the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) announced a combined total investment of $3,582,992 over four years for a world-leading, Saskatchewan-based research project focused on advancing wheat genomics that will lead to better productivity and profitability for wheat farmers.

The $8.8-million project, titled Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics (CTAG2), is being led by Dr. Curtis Pozniak of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre and Dr. Andrew Sharpe of the National Research Council Canada and will combine the expertise of genomic researchers and wheat breeders to improve genetic gain.

“This is incredibly important research right now, as wheat is one of the world’s most fundamental food crops and food security has become a major global concern,” says Sask. Wheat Chairman Bill Gehl. “Currently global wheat production needs to increase to meet growing global demands. This type of research will help Saskatchewan wheat farmers meet this increasing demand.”

“This research will result in a value-added breeding model in Western Canada,” says Kent Erickson, AWC Chairman. “By enhancing innovation in breeding techniques, scientists will be better equipped to develop high quality wheat varieties that result in better returns for farmers.”

“Our investment builds on Dr. Pozniak’s current wheat genomics research of which WGRF is also a funding partner,” says Dave Sefton, WGRF Chairman. “Our funding of Dr. Pozniak’s research has enabled him to participate in the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium to help development of a wheat genome sequence. This work will ultimately result in better wheat varieties for Western Canadian farmers.”

Other co-funders of the project include the Agriculture Development Fund/Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Manitoba Agriculture, Genome Canada, Viterra, SeCan, University of Guelph, DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), and Manitoba Agriculture.

Nufarm Closing Calgary Manufacturing Operations


Nufarm Limited decides to close its manufacturing operations in Calgary, Alta. as part of its plan to build a more responsive, flexible and cost effective structure for the North American region via its facilities in the Chicago area.

The current Canadian distribution locations that serve customers directly will remain, with increased capacity to ensure customers will be serviced with the same or better response times, according to the company. All sales, marketing, and customer-facing operations in Canada remain.

“The decision to close the Calgary manufacturing facility is part of the company’s commitment to improve the performance of its operations,” said Nufarm’s Group Executive Operations, Elbert Prado.

“As with the manufacturing changes we are making in some of our other regions, this decision will allow us to increase flexibility, reduce complexity, and more efficiently utilise our facilities. We have invested to improve capacity of the overall North American manufacturing base, with a new state of the art seed treatment operation and full retooling of the herbicide facility in Chicago. These new facilities will provide greater capacity and support to ensure that we can respond quickly to the needs of our Canadian customers. This proved a more efficient approach than expansion of the Calgary site. ”


More information is available at:

Results of 2015 Canola Performance Trials Released

- Canola Field

Results of the 2015 Canola Performance Trials (CPT) have been released.

For 2015, participants in the trials consist of line companies, independent retailers and seed companies including Bayer CropScience, BrettYoung Seeds, Canterra Seeds, Cargill, DL Seeds, Syngenta and Proven Seed/ Crop Production Services.

CPT represent the next generation in variety evaluation for Western Canadian canola growers. The trials provide:

• Relevant, unbiased and timely performance data that reflects actual production practices.

• Comparative data on leading varieties and newly introduced varieties.

The CPT system includes both small plot and large field scale trials. Results for 2015 are based on 29 small plot trials and a number of field scale trials across the Prairies.

Site distribution is based on seeded acres in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The small plot system ensures that:

• All varieties are treated with appropriate commercially associated herbicides and seed treatments.

• An independent third party representative inspects all trials.

• Varieties are in blocks based on maturity. That way, harvest occurs at the appropriate time to minimize harvest losses due to maturity differences.

The full results are available at:

Lists of Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) Supported Cultivars


This year the Prairie Grain Development Committee met Feb. 23-25 in Banff, Alta., to review new cultivars and put forth those that will deliver benefits to farmers or end-users.

Below is a full listing of all varieties recommended at the PGDC meetings earlier this year.

2015 Wheat, Rye and Triticale (PRCWRT) Committee Supported Cultivars

2105 Oat and Barley (PRCOB) Committee Supported Cultivars

2015 Prairie Pulse and Special Crops Committee Supported Cultivars

New Clubroot Pathotype on the Horizon

- A new clubroot pathotype that can overcome clubroot resistance has been confirmed in Alberta fields.

A new clubroot pathotype that can overcome clubroot resistance has been confirmed in Alberta fields. Photo courtesy AARD

Alberta researchers have identified a new clubroot pathotype. Proactive management will be key in 2015.

A new clubroot pathotype that can overcome clubroot resistance has been confirmed in Alberta fields.

A 2014 clubroot survey written by a team of researchers headed by Stephen Strelkov, division director of Plant BioSystems and professor at the University of Alberta, claims that 648 commercial canola crops in 36 counties and municipalities in Alberta were surveyed, to reveal 104 new cases of clubroot. “Additional surveys by county and municipal personnel identified another 279 new records of the disease, for a total of 383 clubroot-infested fields in 2014,” the survey states.

Of the fields surveyed, several planted to resistant canola were found to have mild to medium levels of clubroot infection — signs of a pathotype that can overcome clubroot resistance.

In 2013’s clubroot survey, Strelkov identified higher-than-normal levels of clubroot pathogens in fields of apparently resistant canola. Subsequently, Strelkov and his team inoculated certified canola seed with the collected pathogen under greenhouse conditions.

The new strain caused almost 100 per cent damage in the greenhouse trial, even though the canola variety used was resistant to existing clubroot pathogens.

This year, Strelkov’s team tested seed from all major companies. “We wanted to find out whether the other varieties were holding up against this strain,” says Strelkov. “We inoculated products from all the different companies and we discovered this new strain could overcome all of the current resistant varieties in use.”

Strelkov and his team have been working with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) and the Canola Council to collect samples and conduct further testing.

The pathotype was identified this year in many fields where clubroot had not previously been confirmed. Even though the damage in those fields was low to moderate, Strelkov says there might be a yield impact down the road, especially in areas where the problem continues to intensify.

Michael Harding, a research scientist with AARD, says the findings have serious implications for canola growers in Alberta. “The appearance of a new pathotype that can overcome the clubroot resistance is of great concern, especially since all of our currently available clubroot-resistant cultivars are ineffective against this pathotype,” he says.

Harding believes the findings, while worrying, are not surprising in the larger context of clubroot resistance gene deployment in other areas of the world. “The clubroot pathogen is a very difficult organism to stay ahead of in terms of deployment of major gene resistance because it has the capacity to generate great diversity (pathotypes) and produce extremely high numbers of long-lived resting spores,” he says.

Added together, high diversity, “extreme reproductive potential,” and the pathotypes’ ability to survive long periods of time in the soil means that new pathotypes can develop after only two or three resistant crop cycles, Harding argues.

AARD continues to assess the situation with surveillance and research activities to analyze the new pathotype. Harding says damage in 2015 will be dependent on a variety of factors. “First, the environment will determine the clubroot disease potential to some extent. A dry spring will be less conducive for disease development,” he says.

Crop history and rotation will also have impact on specific regions’ susceptibility to the new pathotype. Growers who emphasize biosecurity and sanitization to prevent movement of infested soil on their operations will have a better chance of preventing new infestations.

Sanitization Key to Management

In Strelkov’s view, the most valuable tool for managing clubroot resistance is the continued use of resistant varieties. In cases where resistance has been overcome, longer rotations are warranted and can help maintain the integrity of the resistance by reducing selection pressure on the pathogen.

The University of Alberta’s canola breeding and research team has developed a great deal of germplasm which is currently being screened against the new pathogen, according to Habibur Rahman, a research scientist with the department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. Rahman says the team has completed one round of tests and is currently completing its second round.

“Resistance is a most useful and important tool to manage the disease, and in areas where clubroot is very severe, longer rotations are warranted.”
— Stephen Strelkov

“By the end of this year we’ll know if we have resistance to this pathotype,” he says. It’s too soon to say whether the results of those tests might lead to new varieties resistant to the new clubroot pathotypes, but in the meantime, growers cannot afford to bypass best management practices.

“Sanitization of equipment is important,” says Strelkov. “I realize it’s difficult to clean off all equipment, but mechanical cleaning should be practiced at least.” Working clubroot-infested fields last is also a recommended strategy as total sanitization of equipment can be difficult.

Harding seconds the claim that sanitization is key. “Proper sanitization of any equipment carrying soil will reduce the spread of disease,” he says. “Sanitization involves cleaning all soil and organic material from equipment and then applying a disinfectant to kill any remaining spores.”

But Harding claims that scouting should be the first step in managing clubroot, beginning at flowering and ending at swathing. “Early detection of clubroot could mean the difference between a problem that is 10 m2 as opposed to one that goes unnoticed and becomes a problem across an area of 25 ha or larger,” he says.

A good way to begin scouting is at the entrance to fields — growers should pull 50 to 100 plants and inspect the roots for signs of clubroot. Patches of dead or prematurely ripened plants should also be inspected.

Minimizing tillage is another recommended strategy for minimizing the spread of the pathogen.

According to Clint Jurke, agronomy director at the Canola Council of Canada, an integrated system of good stewardship practices will help mitigate the problem. A combined strategy including the use of resistant varieties, lengthy rotations in infested fields, vigilant weed control, reduced or zero tillage and equipment sanitization is the best bet for growers in high-risk clubroot zones.

“Stewardship of our management tools is essential,” he says.

Julienne Isaacs